KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia agreed Wednesday to join a wartime deal that allows Ukrainian grain and other goods to be exported to world markets. The UN refugee chief, meanwhile, put the number of Ukrainians displaced from their homes since the Russian invasion eight months ago at about 14 million. Filippo Grandi, head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said it was “the fastest and largest exodus seen in decades.
In announcing that Russia would join the grain deal, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had received assurances that Ukraine would not use humanitarian aid to attack Russian forces. He warned that Russia has the right to retaliate if Kyiv violates its terms.
Putin supported Turkey’s efforts to restore the agreement, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “remaining neutral in the general conflict” in his efforts to “ensure the interests of the poorest countries”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also thanked Erdogan on Wednesday “for his role in securing the grain deal and his unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
Russia withdrew its participation in the grain deal over the weekend, citing a suspected drone attack on a Black Sea vessel in Crimea. Ukraine has not yet declared an invasion, Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that Moscow’s pushback on the deal showed “the black Russians have not led anywhere.”
Erdogan said that shipments will resume on Wednesday, with priority to African countries, including Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan. This is in line with Russian concerns that most of the grain exported ends up in rich countries, since Moscow and Kyiv have different agreements with Turkey and the UN in July. UN chief Martin Griffiths said on Monday that 23% of products exported to Ukraine under the grain agreement are destined for low- and middle-income countries, which received 49% of all wheat shipments.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Russia’s announcement, and a spokesman said Guterres “is committed to removing the remaining barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports.”
Ukraine and Russia are the world’s leading exporters of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs to developing countries. The loss of those commodities before the grain deal raised global food prices, sent energy prices soaring and helped push tens of millions into poverty. Pentagon: Putin’s Nuclear Threat Will Not Stop US Aid in Ukraine
The July deal brought down global food prices by about 15% from their peak in March, according to the UN. After Wednesday’s announcement that Russia would join the deal, wheat futures erased the gains seen on Monday, falling more than 6% in Chicago. Meanwhile, in Kyiv, the regional power grid operator said power had been restored after drones and missiles hit power facilities. About 300,000 homes are believed to have had their electricity restored, but local authorities have called for electricity to be controlled to ease problems in the system. Grandi, the UN refugee chief, said that Ukrainians were about to face “one of the worst winters in the world under extreme conditions”.
He added that these include the continued destruction of civilian infrastructure, which “accelerates human reactions like falling into the ocean of need”. 에볼루션게이밍
Grandi said that 14 million refugees from Ukraine have brought the number of displaced people worldwide to more than 103 million.
Fires were also reported in the southern region of Nikopol and Chervonohryhorivka after a “massive drone attack”, Dnipropetrovsk Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said. Both cities are located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for months for bombings around facilities that the UN nuclear watchdog said could cause a radiological accident. In a development that eased some fears, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said the company was connected to the country’s electricity grid after the blast, making it dependent on generators to use up nuclear fuel. The Russian military owns the plant, but Ukrainian workers continue to operate it.
The company also said that the Russian military has sealed off the facility’s spent nuclear fuel storage facility and begun construction on an unnamed facility. “They don’t let anyone in, they don’t report anything,” the agency said.
Russian attacks continued in southern and eastern Ukraine, killing at least four civilians between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Zelenskyy’s office.
“The place where the war started” is around the village of Bakhmut, neighboring Soledar in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian security official Hanna Malya told Ukrainian television. He said that the defenders of Ukraine and around Bakhmut faced a “very difficult” task. “But the main thing is that Ukraine does not give one centimeter of land,” he said.
In southern Ukraine, Russian-backed authorities in the Kherson region have announced they are suspending traffic on the wide Dnieper River, citing an ‘increasing military risk’ as Kyiv troops approach the ‘the capital of the region, the city of Kherson. The move will also prevent civilians from flying back into Ukrainian-held territory.
Pro-Moscow authorities say they are moving tens of thousands of civilians further into Russian-held territory before the Ukrainian invasion. The Russian army conquered the region early in the war, and both sides were preparing for a large-scale attack.
In another development, Belarus and Russia have begun preparations for a major joint military exercise. Belarus Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin did not specify the date of the event, called Union Shield-2023, or the number of soldiers who will participate. How Ukraine is Winning the Social Media War
Russia has used Belarus, a dependent economic partner, as a springboard to send troops and weapons to Ukraine. Kyiv fears that Belarusian troops will be drawn directly into the war, coming from the north where the countries share a 1,080 kilometer (671 mile) border.
During a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Albares promised a new military aid program to help Ukraine’s air defense. Cambodia has agreed to send snipers to help train Ukrainians in bombing.